What did happen was a post titled, “Our Golden Rule: The Way of the Bees,” that appeared less than 72 hours later on the Bey Hive section of Beyoncé.com, with principles including, “One Bey should never turn on another.” Before then, Mrs. Carter had asked some of her super fans to “tone it down,” during a filmed interview in November 2011, and has since been one of the few artists to directly address the hostile Hulks in her fan club.
“According to their code, they’re supposed to drag people who come for Beyoncé,” says dream (drag means to start a group attack). “My child didn’t come for Beyoncé. My child has known Beyoncé since she was 7, and I finally forced her to take a picture with her. So many people attack Beyoncé, so [the Stans] consider themselves a line of defense. Because of the anonymity, there’s a hyper-cruelness.”
Ed Connolly, co-creator and former executive producer of MTV’s FANatic, a show that ran from 1998 to 2000 and paired super-fans with their idols, feels partially responsible for this new era of Stans gone wild. “FANatic really felt much more innocent back then,” he reminisces. “Now, [celebrity infatuation] seems to have evolved into something even more fanatical.”
Not to mention, excessive praise can send superstar egos soaring. In July, Chris Brown, whose latest album Fortune sold 136,000 fewer first-week copies than his previous, F.A.M.E., partly faulted his Twitter legion, tweeting (and then deleting): “#Fortune step it up Team Breezy!!” Like CB, droves of artists rely on their Stans for both publicity and confidence surges. Virtual fan club perks can be damaging, but for entertainers it’s that overwhelming positive feedback that helps drown out the bombardment of hate that the Internet feeds on. “Everybody around these people tells them they’re the greatest,” says Connolly. “You could never tell a celebrity the truth. You’ve never been able to. Now they don’t even need these people to tell them. They can just go on Twitter.”
WHILE DRIVING home from a bowling outing with her mother, aunt and best friend, Airy, wearing a black Rihanna Navy hoodie, pouts in the passenger seat. “I don’t understand why Rihanna hasn’t Instagrammed yet!” she harps. “I’m getting mad. I don’t wanna see these ratchet people.” She’d rather see ratchet Rihanna. In the past year, Rih’s become preoccupied with Instagram. Naturally, fans have followed her there.
When it comes to life outside the digital bubble, Airy plans on enrolling in spring classes at Delaware Community College and, later, moving to New York City to pursue fashion design. There’s still hope that Rihanna will crown her with a BFF title, though she vows this isn’t a lifelong profession. “You grow out of it. It’s a teen phase. If you’re 30 and you have a husband and kids, I’m not saying you can’t like Rihanna and listen to her music,” says Airy. “But not pictures on the wall and shit. That’s unacceptable.”